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#1 of 36 Old 03-31-2009, 02:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if I sound really ignorant but I have a question and I'm not sure where else to ask it. How do you refer to people of colour who are Canadian? Does the term African American encompass The Americas or just the States. I am from the UK and the term used there is usually simply 'black'. I have the feel that is not acceptable here (Canada). Where I live there are not many people of African origin so this doesn't really come up. Can anyone gently point me in the right direction? TIA

PS - this question came up in relation to a mixed race family that I saw which is why I posted it here. I hope that's OK.
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#2 of 36 Old 03-31-2009, 08:44 AM
 
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Most people I know also say black. I only recall hearing African-Canadian in cases of recent immigrants from Africa (who could be either black or white) or relating to international diplomacy and such. For what it's worth, DS recently had to take a session on diversity with his class, and they approved the term "black."
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#3 of 36 Old 03-31-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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I had to learn the term African-American. Black was just what..well, black people, are called!

I have noticed that Canadians don't reference race as much as Americans. IDK why, but I have noticed that.

I personally refuses to use the term African-American unless I am talking about someone with duel citizenship. Most black people I know are only Americans. I do know one mama who is Jamaican-American. Thats a whole other conversation!

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#4 of 36 Old 03-31-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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I don't know if its totally correct/non-offensive, but I tend to hear people use "black, white, asian, brown" most often. I have never heard someone say "African-Canadian".


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Originally Posted by kriket View Post

I have noticed that Canadians don't reference race as much as Americans. IDK why, but I have noticed that.
Well, I think it is not allowed to be officially collected data on forms and such (except the census?), so I see it a lot less in those sorts of official situations. But just regular people on the street I hear it referenced all the time when describing strangers. Ex. "That brown guy over there knows where to go, ask him."

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#5 of 36 Old 03-31-2009, 07:16 PM
 
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I personally refuses to use the term African-American unless I am talking about someone with duel citizenship. Most black people I know are only Americans. I do know one mama who is Jamaican-American. Thats a whole other conversation!
How do you refuse to use AA if that is how someone chooses to identify? It's not really our decision and it really boils down to respect.

Most of my family and friends prefer to id as Black, but it's not my place to make that choice for someone else who might prefer AA.
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#6 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 04:39 AM
 
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I don't care for the term "African-American", personally. It's not accurate.

No one in my family has set foot on the African continent in at least 300 years, possibly close to 400. We were on this side of the pond before the United States existed or was even thought of. Mine isn't the only family for whom this is true, either.

How about "person of African descent" if you don't want to use "black" or "person of colour"?

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#7 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 07:09 AM
 
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I don't care for the term "African-American", personally. It's not accurate.
Which is why my family and most of our friends don't use it. But I'm not going to refuse to use African American if I know that someone prefers it; I don't get to make that choice for them.

ETA: Regarding the topic of the thread, I really don't know about Canada.
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#8 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To derail my own thread, I don't really get the term African American either also of course I would use it if that person wanted me to. It seems to refer to nationality rather than race. If a white African emigrated to America wouldn't they be African American too? And how do you know the person is actually American? They might be from the UK for instance. Then the term is really inaccurate. But of course, like others have said, I don't get to decide that. Which is why I was hoping there was a universal Canadian term that I somehow had missed. Thanks for your input everyone.
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#9 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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We say DH is mostly Chinese-Canadian, and I'm mostly Irish-American. Most of DH's ancestors came from China, but he was born in Canada, and about 3/4 of my ancestors came from Ireland but I was born in America.

One uses the first term to honor the place ones ancestors come from and the second to affirm the place one was born.



I also sometimes say New Jersey Dutchy since 1/4 of my ancestors fall into that catagory. In many ways this is more equivalent to AA. (It also includes some black people, since there were quite a few Dutch speaking black people in NJ when it was a Dutch colony.) Not all NJD were decended form people born or raised in Holland. The Dutch colonies were populated by people from all over Europe and Africa. However, Dutch became the prevailing term for two main reasons; they spoke mostly dutch; and even when english became the prevalent language, they wanted to distiguish them selves from the Brittish colonists. (The "y" was added to distiguish from the PA Dutch who are actually Germen.)

AA came about as a term of pride. Possibly black Canadians never felt a need to assert an identity, since they hadn't been as systematically oppressed as black people in the US had been, so it never took off.

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#10 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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To derail my own thread, I don't really get the term African American either also of course I would use it if that person wanted me to. It seems to refer to nationality rather than race. If a white African emigrated to America wouldn't they be African American too? And how do you know the person is actually American? They might be from the UK for instance. Then the term is really inaccurate. But of course, like others have said, I don't get to decide that. Which is why I was hoping there was a universal Canadian term that I somehow had missed. Thanks for your input everyone.
It was a term that Jesse Jackson decided in the 80s that people of descendants of former slaves should be called. I don't know why he spoke for black people but he did because descendants of slaves do not know where in Africa their anscetors were from hence the African term.

You should read through the "I say black and white" thread in TAO. It explains it a little better.
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#11 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 10:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Minerva View Post
I don't care for the term "African-American", personally. It's not accurate.

No one in my family has set foot on the African continent in at least 300 years, possibly close to 400. We were on this side of the pond before the United States existed or was even thought of. Mine isn't the only family for whom this is true, either.

How about "person of African descent" if you don't want to use "black" or "person of colour"?
Not to mention people of Carribean descent- they're black, but they're not African Americans! And how about people from North Africa, who are "African" but more "brown" than "black"? Or a white person who recently emigrated from any African country?

Sometimes, "politically correct" terminology moves too far away from logic.

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#12 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 10:17 PM
 
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Not to mention people of Carribean descent- they're black, but they're not African Americans! And how about people from North Africa, who are "African" but more "brown" than "black"? Or a white person who recently emigrated from any African country?

Sometimes, "politically correct" terminology moves too far away from logic.
It is not "politically correct" terminology if that is how a person chooses to identify. :
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#13 of 36 Old 04-01-2009, 10:37 PM
 
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Not to mention people of Carribean descent- they're black, but they're not African Americans! And how about people from North Africa, who are "African" but more "brown" than "black"? Or a white person who recently emigrated from any African country?

Sometimes, "politically correct" terminology moves too far away from logic.
People from the Carribean are not from America (U.S standards), nor is someone from Canada, Libya, Algeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Australia, India or Bangledash but they are all considered black people. I am light, look at my pic in my sig but I am still a black person. I am lighter than all the people I know from India but I am still black. Dealing with forms and those types of things, I am AA. Don't really like the term but if someone I knew wanted to be called that then I will call them what they choose to. I am not going to refuse to, that's not very respectful.

Go to netflix and watch 500 years later, it will explain this stance from black people all over the world.
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#14 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 04:55 AM
 
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Not to mention people of Carribean descent- they're black, but they're not African Americans! And how about people from North Africa, who are "African" but more "brown" than "black"? Or a white person who recently emigrated from any African country?

Sometimes, "politically correct" terminology moves too far away from logic.
Ah, but it's possible to be an American of Caribbean descent!

My family is from West Africa by way of Haiti, Cuba, and (possibly) Jamaica. Does it matter that they got to the continent proper 200 years ago instead of being recent immigrants? And is it relevant if they arrived in an area that wasn't under US control at the time?

Where does one draw the line as to who is or isn't "African-American"? : I won't even get into my half-Italian FIL who is darker than most of my near cousins.

Logic, that's what is missing! 'Scuse me while my brain unravels completely ....

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#15 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 08:58 AM
 
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Personally I hate that the US monopolized the term American, people from Canada are Americans same with people from the Caribbean. We are all living in the Americas, some in North America some some in south America and some in Central AMerica.

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#16 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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Personally I hate that the US monopolized the term American, people from Canada are Americans same with people from the Caribbean. We are all living in the Americas, some in North America some some in south America and some in Central AMerica.
I have always thought the same thing. Why is that the U.S has the monopoly on the term American. Great point
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Where does one draw the line as to who is or isn't "African-American"? :
Dh is from Africa and since I am from America, I like throw out there that, technically speaking, DD is an African American... Throws people for a loop and shows how dumb the misnomer is!

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#18 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 05:42 PM
 
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How do you refuse to use AA if that is how someone chooses to identify? It's not really our decision and it really boils down to respect.
Honestly I just don't talk about it. If I am forced into identifying someone by race I will say black. If said person gets huffy and informs me that they are "African-American" I don't talk to them.

If I told them that I preferred to be addressed as Irish-American and not white or 'caucasian' (which I also hate) they would think I was mocking them.

My race-dar is broken and I often get myself into situations with people whos race sensitivity is set too high.

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#19 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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Honestly I just don't talk about it. If I am forced into identifying someone by race I will say black. If said person gets huffy and informs me that they are "African-American" I don't talk to them.

If I told them that I preferred to be addressed as Irish-American and not white or 'caucasian' (which I also hate) they would think I was mocking them.

My race-dar is broken and I often get myself into situations with people whos race sensitivity is set too high.
Wow. I'm not sure how to respond to any of that except to say it seems extremely disrespectful and dismissive. I don't see how it's your choice to decide how others identify themselves. We don't use African American in our home, but I respect the wishes of others who do.
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#20 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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Sorry you feel that way,

People can call themselves whatever they like. I'm not making that choice for them. I just prefer not to be around people who want to get into a semantics battle of something so silly. I don't care if you're purple and think you are a Martian-American, I can't keep up with all the PC terms and have stopped many years ago.

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#21 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 06:08 PM
 
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The PC thing only comes into it when it is being put forth that it is The Inoffensive Term -- something that the mere existence of the terminology does not do.

My children's father may have been African and I American as well, but that doesn't make them African American in American parlance any more than nightshade is so named for casting shadows in the moonlight. There are a lot of inexact compound words and terminology in literal English -- it's just silly to pick out a sensitive one and object to it on the grounds of its inexact nature.
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#22 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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Sorry you feel that way,

People can call themselves whatever they like. I'm not making that choice for them. I just prefer not to be around people who want to get into a semantics battle of something so silly. I don't care if you're purple and think you are a Martian-American, I can't keep up with all the PC terms and have stopped many years ago.
It is not silly. It's not about being PC. It is about respect. And one of the most dismissive statements to bring into a discussion about race and racism is using "purple", or "orange" or "polka-dotted" etc...to make a point about how open-minded one is because it immediately ignores the very real experiences of those who are affected by race and racism daily.
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#23 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 06:34 PM
 
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I would certainly call someone African American if that is what he prefers, inexact or not. I just wonder what was the problem in the first place with "black" and "white." Is it something specific to the US?

In light of the original topic, I wonder where the burden of courtesy lies, if someone accustomed to using "African American" visits the UK or Canada, where they usually say "black." Whose terminology overrules whose?
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#24 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is very interesting to me. I also read some of the black and white thread in TAO. I didn't know that African American really referred to black Americans who had lived there for several generations. It seems to me that the term AA is used incorrectly a lot and should only be used when you know the person's heritage. If you know that that is how they self identify it is even better. It would be pretty presumptuous to refer to a pale skinned, blue eyed, dark haired person as Irish American based only on their looks.
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#25 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 09:25 PM
 
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I just wonder what was the problem in the first place with "black" and "white." Is it something specific to the US?
honestly, I think its specific to WHITE people in the US. I have never had a black person say anything, but I seem to find white people view me as racist when I say 'black'

and I've never had this issue, white or black, while living in Canada. Which brings me back to my original statement, Canadians just don't put the emphasis on race like American do. Americans seem to think if you don't acknowledge a persons race you are serving them some variety of disrespect.

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#26 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 09:37 PM
 
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It would be pretty presumptuous to refer to a pale skinned, blue eyed, dark haired person as Irish American based only on their looks.
Having dated redhaired pale not irish-american guys, this is true. As a redhaired pale and irish-american gal, I also find the asumption of it kind of annoying eventhough it happens to be correct. It is only marginally better than "hey red!"

However, the catagorization of pale redheads as being "white" or "european-american" isn't quite the same. Those are broader more inclusive catagories, which do have relavence to our day to day experience.

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#27 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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honestly, I think its specific to WHITE people in the US. I have never had a black person say anything, but I seem to find white people view me as racist when I say 'black'

and I've never had this issue, white or black, while living in Canada. Which brings me back to my original statement, Canadians just don't put the emphasis on race like American do. Americans seem to think if you don't acknowledge a persons race you are serving them some variety of disrespect.
My race is an essential part of me, so yes, by refusing to acknowledge it, you are indeed being disrespectful. Part of why I have experienced things in my life differently than you is due to my race. I am proud of my heritage & it is an integral part of my life as I live it & has greatly shaped who I am in the context of my community.
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#28 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 10:08 PM
 
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My race is an essential part of me, so yes, by refusing to acknowledge it, you are indeed being disrespectful. Part of why I have experienced things in my life differently than you is due to my race. I am proud of my heritage & it is an integral part of my life as I live it & has greatly shaped who I am in the context of my community.
The U.S. and Canada (and maybe other nations) might simply have different ways of looking at this. I was brought up with the idea that it is disrespectful to pay too much attention to outward things like race, sex, age, or physical condition. (Not that avoiding undue emphasis on race is the same thing as refusing to acknowledge it.)
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#29 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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I was brought up with the idea that it is disrespectful to pay too much attention to outward things like race, sex, age, or physical condition. (Not that avoiding undue emphasis on race is the same thing as refusing to acknowledge it.)
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#30 of 36 Old 04-02-2009, 11:53 PM
 
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But it is far more disrespectful to willfully ignore how someone chooses to self-identify because you don't like the term.
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